Thursday, December 11, 2014 Swans and a WC Sparrow

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:51 am, sunset 3:50 pm for a total day length of 5 hours and 58 minutes. Tomorrow will be 1 minute and 43 seconds shorter.

After several weeks of balmy but rainy weather with temperatures in the low to mid 40s, the sky cleared last night. The waning morning moon lingered in Lowell Canyon, bidding farewell to the starry night.  The sleepy sun finally rose, ushering in a sweet dawn, tingeing the snowy mountaintops pink. The clear skies lowered temps to the 30s today; tomorrow’s forecast is for mid-20s then a return to rain or snow for next week.

After not finding the TRUMPETER SWAN family since November 26, they suddenly reappeared on December 9th to thawing ponds and resumed feeding on bottom vegetation. I found them on the ol' nesting grounds at Mile 1 Nash Road where half the wetlands were still frozen.

The four 6-month old cygnets are as large as the adults, and white adult feathers peeked through the juvenile gray plumage. The adults still guarded over them, watching for dangers, but often all six heads were submerged. They are a very competent and capable family.

It’s anyone’s guess where they go, and when they will finally migrate to more predictable wintering grounds. Keep an eye out on Kenai River by Cooper Landing for a family of 6 where swans are often found overwintering. 

I looked for the PURPLE FINCH at Ava’s but instead found a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW this time. Thanks to Dave S for verification.

Town is just loaded with birds, feasting on Mt Ash berries. The BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS chime like tiny bells; PINE GROSBEAKS call musically to each other. I counted at least 20 ROBINS sitting quietly in a cottonwood while unseen VARIED THRUSHES sang their spring song. A small flock of PINE SISKINS flew in to decorate the treetops. DARK-EYED JUNCOS chased each other through the branches. 

WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS flew overhead from one spruce spire to the next to enjoy the tiny seeds. A tiny PACIFIC WREN boldly scolded from dense shrubs.

Robin C reported a EUROPEAN STARLING hanging out with the robins. May any raptor please enjoy it for a special treat.

After all that rain, BALD EAGLES perched on every power pole, sometimes three abreast, hanging their soggy wings out to dry. I counted at least 20 eagles along the Lagoon. The RUSTY BLACKBIRDS are still on the north side of the Lagoon, creaking and whistling in the alders. The MAGPIES and STELLER’S JAYS like to chase them off. The EAGLES just sit and watch, wings drooping, even as RAVENS sit and watch the eagles from an annoyingly close but safe distance.

Feeders filled with sunflower seeds and suet are greatly appreciated during these short days and long chilly nights. The joy of seeing these inspiring, beautiful, mysterious and fascinating birds is well worth the effort.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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